If you are an individual that travels regularly in the US on business you will be aware that making hotel bookings well in advance will result in paying a lower rate than if you book a room the day before your arrival. If you are forced to book in on the day that you arrive you will be asked to pay the hotel’s highest rate. The problem is that pre-booking is not always possible due to changing business requirements when on the road.
Unfortunately, clients do have a habit of changing meeting times and dates at short notice so it is essential to be flexible with your travel and accommodation arrangements. The same applies if you are on a touring vacation when the freedom of the open road appeals and your destination decisions for each day can change virtually on a whim. The end result of these circumstances is that you are often penalized by having to pay the rack rate for a hotel room just because your booking is made on the day. The rack rate is the somewhat inflated price that is quoted by hotels when you deal with them directly rather than booking through a third party, such as an online travel agency. The difference in price can be alarming – sometimes double or more. Thanks to modern technology there is now a way to overcome this problem by using your smartphone to secure the best deal.
There are some excellent new apps available that have been designed to make locating and booking a hotel room simple and quick. A Wi-Fi Internet connection is not difficult to find when traveling these days and online searches are generally very rewarding. Take advantage of the free or cheap Internet connections that are available in hotels, airports and in Wi-Fi hotspots.
Touch base with Twitter
Seasoned travelers may already know that Twitter is not just for chatting with friends or marketing a blog; many hotels, airlines and travel agencies make use of Twitter to respond to enquiries, pass on information and direct you to where you can make a booking. In most cases, accounts are monitored live 24/7 so that the hotel can sort out a room and confirm a booking in double-quick time.
The Expedia Hotels free smartphone app is one of the most popular, giving instant access to information on hotels worldwide. It’s available for iPhone and Android cell phones, and for tablets. Many people use it for same-day bookings, including those making an unscheduled stop on a road trip or those whose onward transport has been cancelled at the last minute. Users are able to identify genuine discounts on room rates and find cheap hotels – usually considerably cheaper than the advertised rates on a hotel’s website.
There are hundreds of sites that offer reviews of accommodation and restaurants, which can be invaluable to travelers who may be new to an area. The only downside is that sometimes the reliability of reviews is affected by who contributed them: friends and relatives of hotel owners have been known to talk up an establishment, and it seems likely that some unnecessarily vitriolic reviews, which can adversely affect a hotel’s reputation, are written by rivals. Check if the chosen sites have chat forums so that information can be exchanged in real time where the hints and tips are right up to date.
Navigation and the smartphone substitute
Navigation aids, such as Google Maps, can help smartphone users to reach their destination quickly by the best route. They also offer directions and distances depending on your mode of transport. Another great feature is that Google Maps will indicate places of interest close to train stations, airports or hotels, thereby directing travelers to the best places to eat or to see a show. If a smartphone’s data plan doesn’t work in a specific area, and an ordinary cell phone is available, Google SMS can be used to stream search results to a cell via a series of text messages. Use the destination 46645 to reach ‘GOOGL’.
Using Wi-Fi for free
Travelers with a laptop, tablet or cell phone should consider using public Wi-Fi networks, providing they are confident that their Internet security is at an optimum level. The directory known as Wi-Fi-FreeSpot offers state by state listings of free Wi-Fi networks across the US, as well as locations worldwide; this service is invaluable for all travelers.